Maleficent is a fictional character and the main antagonist in Walt Disney's 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. She is the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" who curses the infant Princess Aurora to "prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die" before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday after not being invited to the baby's christening. The character is Disney's adaptation of the wicked fairy godmother from the original fairy tale.
Maleficent is often viewed as the most powerful and sinister of the Disney Villains, frequently acting as their leader in many crossovers, and her scenes in the climax of the film are among the darkest and most intense produced by Disney. In Ultimate Disney's top 30 Disney Villains countdown, Maleficent ranked #1.
The character was animated by Marc Davis. The wicked fairy godmother was aptly named "Maleficent" (which means "Evil-doer"). In determining Maleficent's design, standard depictions of witches and hags were dismissed as Davis opted for a more elegant look centered around the appearance of flames, ultimately crowning the villain with "the horns of the devil." According to Davis, Maleficent "was designed like a giant vampire bat to create a feeling of menace." In the event the individual character of the three good fairies and the elegant villain proved to be among the film's strongest points.
She was voiced by Eleanor Audley, who had previously performed Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother in Cinderella. Audley also provided some live-action recording for both of these characters, to inspire the animators. Dancer Jane Fowler also performed some live-action reference for Maleficent. Animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, in their book The Disney Villain, describe animating Audley's voice as "a difficult assignment but a thrilling one, working to that voice track with so much innuendo mixed in with the fierce power".
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Official Site: Disney
Links: Maleficent Wikipedia Entry The Maleficent Fanlisting IMDB entry for Sleeping Beauty